SINGAPORE – It is no longer the stuff of comic books or sci-fi movies: Humans can move things with a mere thought, or rather, lots of concentration – with the help of an iPhone.
Yesterday, Republic Polytechnic (RP) announced it has developed possibly the world’s first iPhone-based portable brain control system. The system uses the iPhone to process brain signals and direct corresponding commands to a wheelchair (picture).
It is designed to help people suffering from physiological disorders including spinal cord injuries, which disrupt communication between the brain and the body.
The iPhone plays commands through a set of earphones. To direct the wheelchair’s movement, the user just needs to concentrate – thereby increasing his brain signals – when the command he wants is played.
While the technology is not entirely new, RP’s invention could bring down the cost and make it available to the masses: The developers said their system could cost less than $1,000 a set if mass produced, a fraction of the cost of existing systems, which can cost $20,000 or more.
And the possibilities are endless. Said RP School of Engineering’s senior academic staff Eugene Tham: “We can use brain control using iPhone to control basically any device. In this case, we are using a wheelchair, but we can expand it to the general market. You can control air conditioners, you can control lighting, you can control cars …”